Mickelson grabs lead of Northern Trust Open

By Randall MellFebruary 17, 2012, 3:33 am

LOS ANGELES – They like spectacular final scenes here in the shadow of Tinseltown.

So Phil Mickelson obliged.

With the end of Act One nearing at the Northern Trust Open at Riviera, he brought down the house on a course that stars such as Douglas Fairbanks, Humphrey Bogart and Gregory Peck once called home.

With the sun sinking fast Thursday, Mickelson holed a 35-foot chip for birdie from behind the 18th green to finish off a round of 5-under-par 66. The shot was dramatically timed, giving Mickelson sole possession of the lead in the suspended first round.

It’s like Mickelson picked up right where he left off after winning in spectacular fashion Sunday at Pebble Beach.

His confidence is soaring. You can see it in his eyes. You can hear it in his voice.

“To carry the momentum over from Sunday felt really good,” Mickelson said. “Now we have a lot of golf to play on a really challenging golf course, and I’m going to have to stay really focused, but I feel like I’m playing well.”

You wouldn’t have thought the dwindling crowd at day’s end could make so much noise around the 18th green, but they let out a giant roar when Mickelson holed out.

“It wasn’t one I was really trying to make,” Mickelson said. “It was quick. It was downhill. I had to play about 4 or 5 feet of break, so it’s not one that you’re trying to get aggressive with. I was trying to get good speed and let it feed with the break, and I got fortunate that it went in.”

The birdie moved Mickelson a shot ahead of J.B. Holmes and Hunter Mahan, two ahead of Jonathan Byrd and Carl Pettersson. Sergio Garcia’s in a pack just three back, Luke Donald just four back.

“I don’t want to think too much about Phil because he’s a stud of a player,” Mahan said.

Mickelson opened the season struggling at the Humana Challenge, Farmers Insurance Open and Waste Management Phoenix Open, but he’s on fire now. Over his last 50 holes, he has made 15 birdies, one eagle and just one bogey.

“I felt very confident at the start of the year because I had played eight to 10 rounds exactly like Sunday’s final round at Pebble,” Mickelson said. “I was so amped up and ready to start the season that I came out and played three terrible tournaments. I don’t know what happened there, and my confidence took a little bit of a hit.

“To come back and play the way I played Sunday when I needed it most at Pebble, it gets my confidence right back to where I was starting the season. I’m excited, especially heading into our biggest event in April.”

That would be the Masters, where Mickelson will be looking to win a fourth green jacket.

That last roar Mickelson conjured echoed across Riviera and all of golf.

“Phil is a great player,” Mahan said. “But it’s too early to kind of worry about him. Back nine on Sunday maybe you can. If it’s me and him down the stretch, I might worry about it more.”

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Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test

By Will GrayDecember 12, 2017, 11:30 pm

One day after receiving a one-year suspension from the PGA Tour for failing to provide a sample for a drug test, Mark Hensby offered details on the events that led to his missed test in October.

Hensby, 46, released a statement explaining that the test in question came after the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship, where the Aussie opened with a 78. Frustrated about his play, Hensby said he was prepared to give a blood sample but was then informed that the test would be urine, not blood.

"I had just urinated on the eighth hole, my 17th hole that day, and knew that I was probably unable to complete the urine test for at least a couple more hours," Hensby said. "I told this gentleman that I would complete the test in the morning prior to my early morning tee time. Another gentleman nearby told me that 'they have no authority to require me to stay.' Thus, I left."

Hensby explained that he subsequently received multiple calls and texts from PGA Tour officials inquiring as to why he left without providing a sample and requesting that he return to the course.

"I showed poor judgment in not responding," said Hensby, who was subsequently disqualified from the tournament.

Hensby won the 2004 John Deere Classic, but he has missed six cuts in seven PGA Tour starts over the last two years. He will not be eligible to return to the Tour until Oct. 26, 2018.

"Again, I made a terrible decision to not stay around that evening to take the urine test," Hensby said. "Obviously in hindsight I should have been more patient, more rational and taken the test. Call me stupid, but don't call me a cheater. I love the game. I love the integrity that it represents, and I would never compromise the values and qualities that the game deserves."

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Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.

Masters victory

Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative

Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ

Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket

Man of the people

Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief

Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together

Ace at 17th at Sawgrass

Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018

Departure from TaylorMade

Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade

Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'

Victory at Valderrama

Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm